Plant Sciences

Natural & Environmental Sciences

About This Program

The Natural & Environmental Sciences program uses inquiry-based projects to develop student skills in observation, assessment, analysis, and management of our most vital resources; water, soil, forests, and wildlife. Our field-based program immerses students into the full range of New England environments, including mountains, forests, ponds, streams, and coastal shorelines. Our goal for each student is to equip them with the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience that will give them an edge in the expansive field of natural resources, environmental science, and civil engineering. See below for full course descriptions

Students pose for a picture in Dungeon Rock cave at Lynnwoods.

Career Paths

  • Environmental and Civil Engineering
  • Fisheries and Wildlife Biology
  • Forestry and Forest Services
  • Marine Biology
  • Park and Game Management
  • Environmental Law Enforcement
  • Maritime
  • Wastewater and Drinking Water
  • Conservation Biology
  • Geographic Information System Analyst (GIS) Environmental Planning
  • Conservation Law
  • Aquaculture
  • Agriculture and agribusiness
  • Aerospace

Industry Partnerships

  • Hancock Associates
  • Trustees of Reservations
  • MassAudubon
  • Essex Heritage
  • Haverhill Drinking Water Treatment
  • Danvers Drinking Water Treatment
  • Groundworks
  • NOAA
  • Ipswich River Watershed Association
  • New England Biolabs
  • FFA
  • SkillsUSA
  • Massachusetts Association of Land Surveyors and Civil Engineers
  • Massachusetts Environmental Police


  • OSHA 10-hour General Industry
  • American Canoe Association (ACA) Flat Water Canoe Certification
  • Massachusetts Wastewater Operator
  • HAZWOPER 40-hour certification
  • LEED Green Associate
  • Sustainability 101,
  • Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) Massachusetts Boat Safety

Advisory Committee Members

  • Mike Armstrong, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
  • Joe Buttner, Salem State University MH 538C
  • Marianna Coombs
  • Curtis Dragon, Earth Landscape
  • Jane Eydenberg, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
  • Lynn Fletcher, Salem State University MH 538C
  • Steven Granese, N. Granese & Sons, Inc.
  • Michael Kastanotis, Weston & Sampson Engineers, Inc.
  • Ellen Keane, NOAA Fisheries
  • Eric Magers, Seaside Sustainability
  • Marc Mahan, Trustees of the Reservations
  • Jason McCarthy, Danvers Water Treatment Plant
  • Robert Pelletier, Enpro Services, Inc.
  • Brad Perron, Salem and Beverly Water Supply Board
  • Lucia Ponte
  • Sophia Ponte
  • Davis Scribner, City of Peabody
  • Sally Sherman, Weston & Sampson
  • John Tomasz, Lynnfield Department of Public Works
  • Robert Vincent, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sea Grant Co

Meet the Natural & Environmental Sciences Teachers

Anthony Wilbur

Mr. Anthony Wilbur

Natural & Environmental Sciences Teacher

Laura Gallant

Ms. Laura Gallant

Natural & Environmental Sciences Teacher

George Protopopescu

Mr. George Protopopescu

Natural & Environmental Sciences Teacher

Natural & Environmental Sciences Course Descriptions

Course NumberNameCreditGrade Level
nes101Natural & Environmental Sciences Exploratory 91.0Grade 9
nes103Natural & Environmental Sciences 910.0Grade 9
nes201Forest Ecosystems Management 1012.0Grade 10
nes202Hydrologic Ecosystems Management 108.0Grade 10
nes301Resource Management & Climate Science 1112.0Grade 11
nes302Marine Ecology 118.0Grade 11
es301Environmental Science Theory 114.0Grade 11
nes305Natural & Environmental Sciences Cooperative Education 1110.0Grade 11
pap301CTE Pathway: Agricultural Sciences4.0Grade 11
nes401Wetlands and Wastewater 126.0Grade 12
nes402Hazmat 128.0Grade 12
nes403Research Methods 126.0Grade 12
es401Environmental Science Theory 124.0Grade 12
pap401CTE Pathway: Agricultural Management4.0Grade 12
Natural & Environmental Sciences Exploratory 9 

Course # nes101 | Credit: 1.0
This five-day cycle exploratory course introduces grade 9 students to topics, equipment, and field work commonly used in the Natural and Environmental Sciences. Lessons will include outdoor-based field work in all weather conditions, lab work, and research work. Students will become familiar with plankton sampling, invasive species concerns, water quality testing, and compass usage. 

Natural & Environmental Sciences 9 

Course # nes103 | Credit: 10.0
This semester-based course is an introduction to Environmental Sciences focusing on a variety of field work, laboratory analyses, and class projects. Major units of study include: wildlife biology and biodiversity, and earth science, which is the study of the physical, chemical, and biological properties of earth, with a focus on the chemical and physical properties of earth, reading maps and mapping technology, and aquaculture system monitoring and maintenance. Each unit will include a combination of reading, lecture, laboratory activities, research, and field work. 

Forest Ecosystems Management 

Course # nes201 | Credit: 12.0
This full-year course introduces students to the many environmental jobs that require a strong understanding of forest ecology and scientific observation practices. Students will learn tree identification techniques, use of field journals, use of dichotomous keys, and practice in sample preservation techniques. In addition, students will explore forest life zones, forest succession, forest health, and ecosystem patch dynamics. Students will gain expertise in the use of forestry equipment used in industry such as tree diameter tape, Biltmore sticks, Merritt Hypsometer measurements, densiometers, soil tests, and light indicators. 

Hydrologic Ecosystem Management 10 

Course # nes202 | Credit: 8.0
This full-year course focuses on understanding fisheries through the study of hydrology and water quality. Hydrology is the study of water and, in particular, the movement of water. Water quality is the biotic and abiotic characteristics of water. Students will be provided background information and hands-on experience in a variety of fishery and aquaculture topics related to freshwater and marine habitats. Students will research and explain topics to develop critical thinking and quantitative skills by analyzing life in aquaculture systems, types of aquaculture, technology used in aquaculture and wild-caught fisheries, similarities and differences between culture and harvest fisheries, properties of freshwater and saltwater, and the ecology, anatomy and culture of fishes, crustaceans, and mollusks. Students will be trained to maintain and monitor a variety of tanksystems in the Environmental Science laboratory and aquaculture center. Students will also investigate different applications of aquaculture and fisheries technology on field trips to fisheries-related facilities in Massachusetts. 

Resource Management & Climate Science 11 

Course # nes301 | Credit: 12.0
This full-year course focuses students on managing natural resources and understanding climate science are key aspects of the environmental career field. Through this course, we will explore climate topics, including global weather events, ocean circulation patterns, climate change, and greenhouse gasses. Students will also explore resource management principles and the policies governing them, including species migration and invasive species management. We will also become familiar with the use of common industry tools used for analysis of these large-scale events. Students will collect field data for several projects and use Global Information Systems (GIS) software to spatially analyze the data. 

Marine Ecology 11 

Course # nes302 | Credit: 8.0
This full-year course examines ecology and evolution as unifying concepts in all sciences—particularly the environmental sciences through project-based learning. An understanding of concepts in ecology and evolution are valuable in protecting the environment, and this understanding is critical to explaining the role of humans in the environment in order to ensure the sustainability of natural resources. Students will focus on the investigation of ecology and evolution on coastal and oceanlife and environments, analysis of weather patterns, and provide hands-on experience in a variety of coastal and ocean ecological topics. Students will conduct field studies, research, and explain topics to develop critical thinking and quantitative skills to analyze interactions between and among species, relationships between species and the environment, and environmental impacts caused by humans. Students will also investigate and describe fundamental concepts in marine ecosystems with a focus on local issues and habitats. The overall goal of the class is to research, analyze, and describe topics in marine biology, marine ecology, oceanography, coastal and ocean habitats, coastal zone management, evolution, and human interactions with the coastal and ocean environment. 

Environmental Science Theory 11 

Course # es301 | Credit: 4
This full-year, classroom-based course will help students understand the concept of sustainability as it relates to various industries at each level of the supply chain. Topics will include the examination of environmental, economic, and social impacts on each industries’ abilities as well as the factors that limit sustainability. By analyzing sustainability at the local, national, and global level, students will understand both the challenges as well as the solutions to help industries become more environmentally friendly. 

Natural & Environmental Sciences Cooperative Education 11 

Course # nes305 | Credit: 12
This semester-based course provides qualified students with a vocational-technical employment opportunity. The program is designed to allow students on-the-job training by involving them in work that is directly related to their technical area of study. Cooperating employers provide additional training, pays students, and reports their performance to the school for every cycle. Please note that juniors are eligible for Cooperative Education during third and fourth quarters only. 

Wetlands and Wastewater 12 

Course # nes401 | Credit: 6.0
This semester-based course focuses students on the functions and values of wetlands through field work on the processes and importance of wastewater management. Students will explore global and local challenges in providing clean water and cleaning polluted water, the value of clean water to the environment and economy, the value of protecting and restoring wetlands, the importance of wastewater treatment for human and environmental health, and the processes of wastewater treatment plant operation and maintenance. Students will be introduced to the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of wetland ecosystems and wastewater treatment facilities. Students will also learn about the structure and function of wetland ecosystems, wetland inhabitants, and the valuable ecosystem services that wetlands provide such as flood and erosion control, natural water filtration, and wildlife habitat. The field component of this course will focus on wetland plant identification and quantification skills that are in high demand from environmental consultants, regulatory agencies, and conservation organizations.The field work will emphasize vegetation sampling and identification, soil characteristics, and hydrological indicators. Wetlands are nature’s filters, and wastewater treatment facilities apply an understanding of nature’s ability to clean water by using engineering and technology to ensure protection of human and environmental health. Students will also visit wastewater treatment plants and describe the sequence of technology used to clean wastewater. Upon course completion, students will be eligible to take the Massachusetts Grade II Municipal Wastewater Certification Exam. 

Hazmat & LEED 12 

Course # nes402 | Credit: 8.0
This full-year course will help students develop key skills and accreditations for potential careers in environmental technology. Semester 1 will focus on preparing students to earn the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate Credential from the United States Green Building Council. This is a foundational professional credential signifying core competency in green building principles. Semester 2 will focus on having students obtain a Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) 40-hour certificate. Students will also be given time to work on the senior research project and portfolio. 

Research Methods 12 

Course # nes403 | Credit: 6.0
This semester-based course requires students to develop and complete a capstone research project independently. Students write and defend a research proposal, conduct the research, analyze and interpret research data, and present research findings at the Environmental Research Symposium. Students follow the scientific method to propose and complete rigorous scientific studies on a variety of environmental science topics. 

Environmental Science Theory 12 

Course # es401 | Credit: 4
This full-year, classroom-based course will explore the theoretical skills necessary to collect, analyze, interpret, and communicate environmental data. Emphasis will be on deepening student understanding of the technical skills necessary for successful employment in the competitive environmental science field or to prepare students for further education. Students will study field skills, Geographic Information System digital mapping, water chemistry, aquaculture and fish science, and the impacts of manmade pollutants on the coastal ecosystems. 

Natural & Environmental Sciences Cooperative Education 12 

Course # nes405 | Credit: 24
This full-year course provides qualified students with a career technical employment opportunity. The program is designed to allow students on-the-job training by involving them in work that is directly related to their technical area of study. Cooperating employers provide additional training, pays students, and reports their performance to the school for every cycle. 

In the foreground of a classroom, 2 students in blue hazmat suits pour a liquid into a beak, other students watch from the background.
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